On the foreign policy side, the ex-Brookings people who joined Obama included Ivo Daalder (ambassador to Nato), Philip Gordon (assistant secretary of state for Europe), Jim Steinberg (deputy secretary of state, via the University of Texas) Jeff Bader (head of Asia at the NSC) and Jeremy Shapiro (policy planning at the State Department).
So a Brookings study of the Obama administration’s foreign policy is – to some extent – an inside job. The three Brookings-based authors of “Bending History: Barack Obama’s Foreign Policy” know their subject intimately. This has both merits and problems. On the plus side, Bending History is easily the most comprehensive and balanced study to date of Obama’s record as a foreign-policy president. On the minus side, the authors (Martin Indyk, Kenneth Lieberthal and Michael O’Hanlon) have a slight tendency to pull their punches. Still, given that so much political debate in Washington is now partisan shrieking, an excess of civility is a pardonable sin.